The time left until tomorrow's Tax Day is tick, tick, ticking away. If you're feeling like silent movie legend Harold Lloyd, hanging on by your fingernails as you try to finish your Form 1040, take a break by filing for an extension instead. In a survey earlier this tax filing season by Credello, more than three-quarters of respondents said they know what they're doing when it comes to filing their taxes. Oh, really? Not that I'm questioning the poll participants' honesty, but taxes are not really the area where you want to fake it 'til you make it. If you... Read more →


Tax Day 2021 has moved to Aug. 2 for Tennessee taxpayers in 23 counties that were hard hit by tornadoes, other storms, and flooding. Satellite view from GOES-16 showing the storm system responsible for the tornado outbreak across much of the southern United States on March 25, 2021. (Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikipedia Commons) As we enter the final weekend of the regular tax-filing season, millions of taxpayers have yet to file their returns. Some are simply uber-procrastinators. Others, however, don't have to worry about meeting Monday's May 17 deadline thanks to extra time granted by... Read more →


Still trying to put your 2020 tax return puzzle together? The following 10 tips could help you find any missing pieces. If you're spending your weekend working on your 2020 tax return, you are not alone. Millions of people every year put off this annual tax task until the very last minute. Tax procrastination happens even in years like this one when the deadline is later than usual. It also happens even when people are going to get a refund. I know! Go figure. Whatever your reason for waiting, I'm not judging. But I do want to offer some tips... Read more →


The 2020 tax return filing deadline for most U.S. taxpayers literally is just days away. If you're scrambling to meet the May 17 due date, don't be in such a hurry that you cheat yourself out of some tax savings. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, most of which are still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions, that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because they directly reduce what you... Read more →


Enjoying a comfortable retirement later means planning for and contributing to nest eggs now. For some, the Saver's Credit offers an added tax incentive. Some lawmakers want to make the credit even better. I'm a big believer in saving for retirement because, well, I'm a big believer in retiring. Specifically, in retiring when and how I want. And that takes money. Uncle Sam apparently shares my pro-nest-egg point of view. In addition to the tax breaks available for those who take advantage of myriad retirement saving options, the Internal Revenue Code also offers a double reward for some with the... Read more →


Health insurance policies with lower premiums are always popular, whether the medical coverage is offered via a workplace plan or bought separately by individuals. Those who opt for such coverage are willing to take smaller out of pocket premiums each month in exchange for larger deductibles for their overall coverage. Part of that choice is based on the opportunity to set up a companion savings account to cover those higher deductibles. These aptly and obviously named high deductible health plans, or HDHPs, work well for folks who don't have chronic medical issues, but want to make sure they have coverage... Read more →


Tax Day 2021 for most U.S. taxpayers is just a week away. Procrastinators' focus obviously is on finishing up those 1040s. But there are some other tax tasks that, if they apply to your tax situation, you should take care of or at least consider by May 17. 1. Contribute to an IRA: Putting as much as you can into an individual retirement arrangement, or account as most of us call it, is always a smart move. The IRA will grow over the years, giving you some cash when you're ready to call the cubicle farm quits. An IRA contribution... Read more →


Washington's capital gains tax proposals have people talking. On both coasts. In Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden's call for those earning more than $1 million to pay a 43.4 percent tax on their investment earnings instead of the current 20 percent tax rate has anti-tax lawmakers and lobbyists working overtime to stop it before it gets going. That total comes from a return to the pre-George W. Bush tax cuts ordinary income tax rate of 39.6 percent plus the 3.8 percent Affordable Care Act investment income surcharge. Meanwhile, around 2,350 miles to the west, a new capital gains tax on... Read more →


Among the many numbers critical to tax filing is the deadline returns are due. That's not always the same for all taxpayers. This year we have three due dates for filers in five states. I love tax visuals. There are tons of fun tax graphics (yes, I used "fun" and "tax" in the same sentence) out there, many from the Internal Revenue Service. I just ran across another one, an infographic from WalletHub. A very long infographic that, since I'm awarding it this weekend's Saturday Shout Out, you'll find at the end of this comparatively brief post. But before you... Read more →


Crayons aren't just for kids any more. Adult coloring books abound, including one created just for accountants. With Tax Day 2017 just days away, perhaps no one is feeling the pressure more than tax professionals. Tax preparers, for the second consecutive filing season, are dealing not only with the regular rush of taxes, but also with new COVID-19 pandemic prompted laws. Multiply that by how many clients they have, add what's happening in their (and their clients') lives, and the solution equals, among other things, stress that's off the charts. Helpful timeouts: While it might seem counter intuitive to those... Read more →


Even before 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people chose to use the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also were... Read more →


Still working through the retirement changes that were part of 2019's SECURE Act? Get ready. SECURE 2.0 is on its way. The Ways and Means Committee (W&M) today, May 5, unanimously — yes, Republicans and Democratic representatives agreed on something! — to send this latest set of retirement (and tax) law changes to the House floor. First round retirement law review: Provisions in the first SECURE, or Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, Act took effect Jan. 1, 2020. It was the largest retirement reform bill since the Pension Protection Act back in 2006. Among the major changes in... Read more →


You need to follow your doctors' practice of keeping track of your medical records. Your documentation of your health care treatments and costs could pay off as valuable tax deductions. Most taxpayers used the standard deduction even before 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made it even more appealing by essentially doubling the amounts. Still, millions of filers every year find that claiming itemized deductions gives them a better tax result. And medical expenses tend to be a big reason why they opt to itemize, especially when they know and claim all the possible health-related expenses. Annual deduction choice: You're... Read more →


Feeling adrift as the May 17 tax filing deadline approaches? Here are some tax moves to make this month that could serve as lifelines. May Day arrived over the weekend, but millions of taxpayers today are sending out filing mayday distress signals. The delayed May 17 Tax Day is just two weeks away. Two weeks, however, is plenty of time to get your taxes done. Or postpone them — at least the form filing part — for five more months. Those are the top two tasks on the following list of seven tax moves to make this month. Since time... Read more →


The Biden Administration's proposal to up the Internal Revenue Service budget so it could go after more rich tax cheats got a lot of attention. But the White House also wants to cut down on some audits. That, according to the president's American Families Plan, can be accomplished by giving the IRS more oversight of unregulated tax preparers. The audit/tax pro regulation connection is noted in a White House fact sheet hyping the proposal: These Tax returns prepared by certain types of preparers have high error rates. These preparers charge taxpayers large fees while exposing them to costly audits. As... Read more →


Severe storms in late February produced flooding in Franklin County, Kentucky, shown here, as well as other parts of the Bluegrass State. That led to a major disaster declaration and associated tax relief. (Photo by National Weather Service) We Texans, especially here in the usually more temperate central-to-southern part of the state, learned a hard lesson in February from Mother Nature. She can be as bad as she wants, whenever and wherever she wants. We Lone Star Staters are not alone in dealing with the weather truth. Since our devastating winter storm, severe weather has raged across much of the... Read more →


Remember last summer when we all suddenly learned that the letter from Donald Trump about the first COVID-19 economic impact payment was an official Internal Revenue Service notice? Many of us thought it was a thinly disguised campaign mailer and tossed it. Others didn't even receive it. And many of those who held on to the document did so because they viewed it as a political artifact. But the letter, officially known IRS Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment, had details on how much money you received in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that... Read more →


One of the many reasons that people hate taxes is that after the hassle of filing, then comes the fear that a Form 1040 mistake will mean an audit. The sort-of good news for taxpayers is that the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been auditing as many people in recent years. The agency has had other things to worry about, like doing its myriad jobs with fewer staff and less money. Then there's COVID-19, with added pandemic payments that the IRS is tasked with distributing. Things could be changing, though. More people are getting vaccinated, meaning the end of the coronavirus... Read more →


President Joe Biden's proposal to give the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion to go after tax cheats — which the ol' blog talked about earlier this month in this post — is getting a lot of attention in advance of his nationally televised speech night. I suspect the current IRS hierarchy is pleased, despite the comments to The New York Times by a former commissioner that an extra $25 billion over a decade would be sufficient. "I'm not sure you'd be able to efficiently use that much money. That's a lot of money," said John Koskinen, whose term... Read more →


Princess Bride impatience via Giphy.com Aside from having to fill out a tax return, the most annoying thing for most people each year is waiting for their tax refunds. The complaint is continually atop the list of taxpayer complaints. The frustration of waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to deliver their tax cash probably is why so many folks fall for tax refund myths. Don't! These fabrications, six of which are listed below, won't help you get your money any sooner, and some could actually cost you more. Myth 1: Calling my tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service will... Read more →